Manipur CM on biz Road to Mandalay

MANDALAY: The Chief Minister of Manipur, on a visit to Burma, requested ethnic Manipuris to carry the flame of their language and culture.

Expressing his happiness after meeting Manipuris settled in Burma (Myanmar), chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh advised them to preserve their culture and live as Manipuris.

During the Burmese invasion known as ‘Cahi Taret Khuntakpa’ (seven years of devastation from 1819-1826), a large number of Manipuris fled their erstwhile “nation” and settled in several parts of the northeast, Burma and Bangladesh.

According to U Htun Shwe aka Sunder Sharma, a prominent Meitei elder, about 20,000 Manipuri Meities are living in Mandalay and its surrounding areas.

On the occasion, Okram said his the state government, subject to  approval of the Indian government, would send a Manipuri cultural troupe to Burma for cultural exchange purposes. Stating that a centre of Myanmar studies has been opened in Manipur University, Okram extended a welcome to  the ethnic Manipuris in Burma to study there.

Okram, who is in Burma to promote business links, said the Mandalay-Imphal Bus service would start by 2016 and visa on arrival facilities for Burmese nationals would be made available at Manipur’s border town Moreh.

During the meeting, Sunder Sharma, on behalf of the Manipuri community in Mandalay, said, “In 75 years, it was the first visit of a top Manipuri leader to Burma. Hijam Irabot of the Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha paid a visit in 1933 under the patronage of Manipur King Churachand Singh.”

There are about 20,000 Manipur Meitieis living in Mandalay and its nearby areas, he added. They organize  Manipuri festivals such as Cheiraoba, Kang (Rath Yatra) and Jhulon, he said.

Burmese of Manipuri origin  are well-placed in Myanmar. Some of them are doctors, engineer and army officials, while others are employed in foreign countries like Singapore, Malaysia, England and USA. “But we are lagging behind in language, literature and cultural aspects. Most of the youngsters cannot read, write and speak Manipuri language. Our identity is absorbed in other communities due to the policy of our country,” lamented the elder.

Noted film maker Aribam Syam Sharma’s award winning Manipuri film ‘Ishanou’ (The Chosen One) was also screened at the historic occasion. The film was the India’s official selection for the Cannes Film Festival in 1991.

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Posted by on June 1, 2013. Filed under Burma. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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